• A fireball event was spotted over Idaho
  • Eyewitnesses said the fireball fragmented after exploding
  • The event may have been caused by a bolide

Residents in Idaho and other states in the U.S. were able to witness a bright fireball event caused by a falling meteor. According to some eyewitnesses, the fiery object fragmented as it flew towards the ground.

The American Meteor Society reported that the fireball event happened on April 20 at around 10:30 p.m. MDT (April 21 at 12:30 a.m. EDT). Although most of the eyewitness reports regarding the fireball event came from Idaho, the incident was also spotted by individuals from Washington and Oregon.

Based on the eyewitness reports, the brightness or magnitude of the fireball varied. While some eyewitnesses stated that the fireball had a magnitude of -20 to -14, others stated that it ranged from -7 to -5.

The difference in magnitude may have been caused by the sky conditions in the area where they spotted the meteor. The presence of clouds or haze in the region might have affected the brightness of the fireball.

As the meteor was streaking across the sky, some eyewitnesses noted that it produced a bright glow that lasted for a couple of seconds. According to some eyewitnesses, the object had a minor explosion before breaking off into several fragments.

“It popped, giving off a bit of a bright light and some little fragmentation before it was all gone,” an eyewitness named Kisa J. from Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho stated in her report.

Based on the descriptions submitted by the eyewitnesses, it is possible that the fireball event was caused by a bolide. Unlike ordinary fireball events, bolides are caused by meteors that are large enough to cause an explosion in the sky shortly after entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

The explosion is usually followed by fragmentation. In some cases, pieces of the meteor reach the ground instead of disintegrating mid-air.

“A fireball is another term for a very bright meteor, generally brighter than magnitude -4, which is about the same magnitude of the planet Venus as seen in the morning or evening sky,” the American Meteor Society explained. “A bolide is a special type of fireball which explodes in a bright terminal flash at its end, often with visible fragmentation.”

Pictured: This image taken with a meteorite tracking device developed by George Varros, shows a meteorite as it enters Earth's atmosphere during the Leonid meteor shower November 19, 2002. Getty Images/George Varros and Dr. Peter Jenniskens/NASA